Nature and History

Fairfax County, Virginia


12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035

Laura Grape,
Director, Resource Management Division

Watch the Green Grow

Watch the Green Grow logoShare the good work you do on your property to benefit our natural areas. To learn more about how to help the environment in your yard, explore our educational content here. Then, use our Watch the Green Grow mapping application to record environmentally friendly practices in your yard. Upload pictures to show your progress. Each positive report triggers a green spot on a county map. The green areas grow with each beneficial action. The map provides a powerful picture of environmental stewardship in our community.


The effects of our yard care practices extend beyond our yards into the environment. Together our green actions have a visible impact in the county.

Help protect our streams and forests with these green practices at home.

  • Butterflies feeding on coneflowersScoop the poop! Clean up after pets, even in your own yard. Pet waste left on the ground ends up in streams or storm drains when it rains. Scoop the poop and throw it in the trash. Help keep our water clean. 
  • Reduce your use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer. Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer can wash into streams when it rains. They harm plants and animals and pollute our drinking water. If you must use them, follow the label directions carefully. Do not over-apply the products. 
  • Grasscycle! Leave grass clippings on the ground when you mow. The cut grass will return nutrients to the soil. That reduces the need for fertilizer. 
  • Reduce your lawn area, and plant native flower gardens. Lawns require mowing, watering and fertilizer. They don’t offer any wildlife value. Native plants do not need fertilizer or much watering, and they provide food for birds and butterflies. 
  • Identify and remove invasive non-native plants from your yard. Invasive non-native plants do not belong in our region and do not benefit local wildlife. They spread out of control and are hard to remove from an area once established.  
  • Fix bare spots in your yard to prevent erosion. Plant groundcover plants and shrubs to hold soil in place.  
  • Plant native trees in your yard. Trees reduce water runoff and prevent soil erosion. Native trees are ideally suited to our local environment. They provide food and shelter to birds and other wildlife. 
  • Respect property boundaries. Mowing past property lines damages the forested buffers that protect streams. Trees and other plants filter water runoff. Mowing or removing plants from the buffer increases erosion and allows pollutants to enter streams. If you live near a Resource Protection Area, protect it! 
  • Dispose of yard waste properly. It goes in paper lawn bags for curbside collection. Dumping yard waste in forests is not composting. It is encroachment. Dumped yard waste smothers native plants and spreads weeds and invasive plants into forests. 
  • Ask your HOA or community association to plant gardens on common land to benefit wildlife.  

Native summer flowers in bloom

  • Spread the word! Tell a neighbor how they can Watch the Green Grow! 



Several youth planting native plants.Volunteer with Watch the Green Grow. Bring Watch the Green Grow messages to your community through your HOA, Community Association, schools, scouts or volunteer groups.  
Contact Tami Sheiffer, Watch the Green Grow Coordinator, at  
Watch the Green Grow is a Fairfax County initiative to protect our streams and forests through green practices on private property. 

Watch the Green Grow Outreach is supported by the Fairfax County Park Foundation and Fairfax Water

fairfax county park foundation

fairfax water

Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience

Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience is a program for fourth and fifth-graders that teaches them about erosion, biodiversity, native plants and their effect on the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
Fairfax Virtual Assistant